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£10m for renewable energy initiatives by UK communities

Twelve UK communities have received grants to install solar panels, wind turbines and other renewable energy technologies, under a national challenge to reduce carbon emissions.

Communities selected in the first round of the Low Carbon Communities Challenge will use their grant of £500,000 to install a range of green and renewable energy measures to reduce their carbon emissions, and some could make money in future from generating their own renewable power under the government feed-in tariff announced earlier this month for renewable energy technologies.

“The huge enthusiasm for the Low Carbon Communities Challenge demonstrates that local people are passionate about building a low carbon future in the UK,” says Energy Minister Joan Ruddock. “Today’s winners will act as a test bed for green action, and show us all what a greener future looks like.”

The Challenge

The Challenge lasts for two years and was devised by the UK government in partnership with the Welsh Assembly Government and Northern Ireland Assembly Government, which provide funding to participating local communities. By co-ordinating public and private support, the Challenge provides access to a range of services allowing communities to curb their carbon emissions and to promote investment in renewable energy.

The pilot communities will share the £10m to investigate what measures work at a local level, and allows the experiences to be shared in order to inform and inspire other communities wanting to begin their own low-carbon initiatives.

“This sort of action is vital because over one-quarter of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions come from heating, lighting and powering electrical appliances in our homes,” adds Ruddock. “By 2050, this needs to be almost zero and we can only achieve that through the creative initiative of local communities.”

The winning communities:

  1. Hook Norton, Oxfordshire, England: Install a heat recovery system, solar panels, two community electric pool cars and a geothermal heat pump at the local primary school. It will provide interest-free loans for a retrofit of 6 homes and install solar thermal panels on 20. The measures could provide income for a rolling low-carbon fund so the community can take action for another 10 years;
  2. Ashton Hayes, Cheshire, England: Since 2006, the 370-home community has reduced average household emissions by 23% and it plans to spend the LCCC grant on a renewable energy cogeneration plant and solar panels on the school;
  3. Easterside, Middlesbrough, England: Install two wind turbines at primary schools to generate income from the Government’s clean energy scheme, and install solar hot water and air-source heat pumps onto 20 homes;
  4. Halton, Lancaster, England: Install a small hydropower turbine into the River Lune and install three solar roofs;
  5. Exmoor National Park, Somerset & Devon, England: Funding wood pellet heating and solar installations in 6 communities; one community will install a community-owned hydropower turbine;
  6. Whitehill-Bordon, East Hampshire, England: Lend money to residents for installation of renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency measures;
  7. Ladock and Grampound Road, mid-Cornwall, England: Upgrade homes, schools, community halls and businesses with microgeneration technology, and monitor progress through smart meters to assess the impacts of behaviour change and renewable energy technologies;
  8. Ballymena, Northern Ireland: Build a district heating network based on deep geothermal, biomass and residual heat technologies;
  9. Camphill Community Glencraig, Northern Ireland: Install a biomass district heating system using locally-sourced wood;
  10. Cwmclydach, Pontypridd, South Wales: Install two small hydropower turbines in a nearby park;
  11. Awel Aman Tawe Community Wind Farm in Upper Amman and Swansea Valley, South Wales: Install two wind turbines of 4 MW capacity on the Mynydd y Gwrhyd mountain and generate electricity for 2000 local homes;
  12. Glogue, Hermon and Llanfyrnach, Preselli Hills, Pembrokeshire, Wales: Install two wind turbines to generate £300,000 per year.

The Government launched its Clean Energy Cashback scheme earlier this month, to provide money for domestic and community-based small scale renewable energy projects for the green power they produce, even if the communities use that power themselves.

The UK goal is to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. Through the Low Carbon Transition Plan, the Department of Energy & Climate Change will provide incentives and advice to reduce emissions and enable the energy sector’s shift to “the trinity of renewables, new nuclear and clean coal.”

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Bioenergy  •  Energy efficiency  •  Energy infrastructure  •  Geothermal  •  Green building  •  Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Policy, investment and markets  •  Solar electricity  •  Solar heating and cooling  •  Wind power